|City/Town: • Birmingham
|Location Class: • Residential
|Built: • c. 1975 | Abandoned: • c. 2003
|Status: • For Sale
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit
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Known as the Roebuck Castle, this unique home was constructed in the 1970s on a large corner lot in the South Roebuck neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama. The five-bedroom, three-bath house was built by Elias Salem Khalaf and his wife Diana who established Salem’s Pharmacy in 1978 at 8000 2nd Avenue South. Nancy Bird Khalaf told Bham Now, “My parents built the house in the 1970s and we moved in around 1975. My mother sold the house in the 1990s. The house was full of life as they had many parties and events for the community and family.”
Since then, the property has changed owners several times before it was purchased by a wholesale real estate investment company. The Roebuck Castle is estimated to have been abandoned around 12-15 years ago according to the mail left in the house.
Paul Mielke, House Flipper
In 2021, the Roebuck Castle caught the attention of Paul Mielke, former host of the A&E television show “Flipping Down South,” and founder of Monroe Park Properties. That same year, he and his team purchased the dilapidated house for $74,000. In regards to the home, Mielke said, “It’s the worst condition house I’ve ever bought—and we’ve bought $9,000 and $5,000 properties from the City before. This one is by far the most challenging.” The first time he walked inside, he said, “I walked in, floors were falling in and it was literally raining inside. But I just immediately fell in love with it and knew I had to have it.”
Mielke and his team immediately ran into problems with permitting and work crews not showing up, so the project kept getting put on the back burner. It wasn’t until May 2022 that the team “decided it was time to prioritize this project again in a big way” with the project beginning in mid-July. The renovation was estimated to have been completed within four or five months.
Shortly into construction, the team ran into yet another issue as a lot more of the house had to be taken out than originally determined. Instead of removing and reframing 70% of the home, around 90% had to be removed due to the amount of rain and termite damage. This was an issue since the team only had a $250,000 budget which needed to cover the costs of reframing most of the 5000-square-foot house, windows appliances, a new roof, and construction materials. Despite these problems, Mielke remained optimistic and planned to have the Roebuck Castle staged and on the market by Thanksgiving. The house would be put on the market, but not in the condition he intended.
Roebuck Castle Up For Sale
The house was reframed and a new roof was installed, but that’s seemingly how far the project got. By July 2023, WRBC FOX 6 reported that the house remained in disrepair with huge containers outside filled with debris from the house, the front yard filled with debris, and an overgrown lawn. On August 17, 2023, the Roebuck Castle was put up for sale by Paul Mielke for $230,000. Less than a month later, the price was reduced by $10,000 and remains on the market as of this writing.